Eurovision. Drug of the nation. Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.
So sang The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy in the early Nineties, clearly missing the point. Eurovision is an excellent thing. After all, it’s the drug of several nations, not just one. And it shows that, despite the ongoing financial crisis, we European nations, if we put our minds to it, can create some of the weirdest avant garde nonsense possible in the name of mainstream primetime entertainment.
My favourite recent winner built on the power-trio format popularised by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, featuring a singer, a violinist and an ice skater. An ice skater in a miniature foot-long ice rink. Going round and round and round with all the steely European epic-ness he could muster. Quite what relevance this had to the lyrics, or whether he was trying to emulate the sound of brushes on drums… Well, I couldn’t tell. But it’s this enigmatic weirdness that makes Eurovision simultaneously awesome and awful. You wouldn’t get it on American Idol. They’d probably do something well.
We have a scoring system for Eurovision in our house in which the song is the least essential component. Categories include Dancing, Dress, Miscellaneous and Performance. And since the judges are a man, a woman and a teenage boy, the points awarded are entirely at odds with each other. A song with no other redeeming features may be saved by the deployment of a short skirt or a hunting horn solo. Or a reference to Sonic the Hedgehog.
The points system varies over the night. It starts as a simple bog-standard decimal, but as the night wears on, includes scores like “0.45” and “minus infinity” to accurately reflect the effects of Eurovision on mere human minds. Thus, it is a much fairer judging system than the one used in the competition.
It also includes a short description of each act for reference. These tend to be things like “Moustaches” or “Gnarly” or in the case of one group of larger gentlemen, “The Eatles”.
These sort of comments are cruel, of course, but necessary. Graham Norton excels at sploshing irony over the proceedings to help the viewer survive. His commentary saved my sanity during the climax of a previous year’s show, as the ceiling transformed into a writhing multi-coloured mass of Dante-esque bodies on a plexiglass sheet, reminiscent of the whales on that alien ship in Star Trek 4: The Journey Home. Presumably, with the same message that we should spread tolerance and ecology or face imminent planetary destruction.
Of course, the English entry is always an embarrassment. Last year it was Blue, with Anthony Costa leaving behind his chain of coffee outlets and his recently acquired hobby of pissing over cash machines to take part. It’s only a shame they couldn’t replicate that in the dance routine. Each of the boys downing an extra grande lattechino before hosing down a symbol of the banking industry could have won it for us.
This year it’s good old Englebert Humperdink, The Eurovision Yoda. And whilst the song is winsome and tuneless enough to be a contender, Englebert may well have to dress as the obelisk from 2001 and emit a similarly philosophically-challenging light show to win the competition in my house.
We live in hope. And we will certainly tune in to have our minds melted.
“Television” That was it. “Television. Drug of the nation.” Not “Eurovision.”